Tips for Reducing the Effect of Peer Pressure on Children

Peer pressure can be both good and bad. Everybody, but especially teens are susceptible to the pressure to measure up, be accepted and liked. This can lead to higher performance when competing with peers or on the downside amd unfortunately more common can also have a bad influence on personal development. Negative influences range from the generational obligatory fashion faux-pas to rude behavior and in grave cases addiction. We are faced with peer pressure from the time we are old enough to realize somebody else has something we don’t have or can do something we can’t, usually around the age of two years old. One may say we are greedy by nature, we want as much as we can possibly have and sometimes more. And though that sounds like an insult to human kind it is also that very trait that powers our drive to succeed and improve. Without it we would still live without all those conveniences that we are so used to such as the wheel.

In teenage years kids transform from a child to an adult. Body and mind do not always transform at the same rate which causes confusion and even worse for the teen is that others don’t transform at the same rate as them. Fitting in becomes an almost impossible task to these young people as their peers and they change daily and so do the rules that used to stand so firm.

First and foremost it is important to instill a good sense of self confidence and self respect into a child as early in life as possible. Make your child and teenager aware of who they are and how much they are worth for whatever they do. Sports can be a great tool to build confidence but anything a person can excel at will have the same effect. The more confidence the less likely it is that the teenager turns into a follower instead they will become leaders and others will try to be like them. Besides confidence an important tool to personal growth is a sense of self. Help them understand who they are and that who they are is alright. Teach them about diversity and tolerance and how these two help our society grow as a whole. Not only will they be proud of who they are but they will accept others for who they are thus preventing negative peer pressure. Trying to be the best person they can be instead of thriving to be somebody else will greatly reduce the risk of falling to the bad influences they are faced with.

A strong feeling of belonging and home are equally important. Your teenager may not always feel understood by the world, make sure he or she feels comfortable enough to voice opinions and discuss decisions and problems with you. This does not mean you should agree with everything they say or give in to every whim. Don’t dismiss their concerns but work through them in conversation. We teach our society’s core values to our kids early in life but sometimes they don’t really sink in till much later. Values such as respect, responsibility and integrity have to be taught by example. Your teenager watches your every move and as much as they try not to they imitate your behavior in many ways. It may not always be obvious but a parent has a huge influence on a teenagers life. Be aware of that fact and lead by example to make them a better person.

As mentioned before peer pressure can be both positive and negative. So avoiding peer pressure is not the issue, making smart decisions is. A teenager studying hard to rank higher in tests than their peers is an example of positive pressure and should be encouraged. Of course when faced with other teenagers taking drugs one will hope the young adult will be smart enough to walk away. Decision making is a learned behavior. Let your kids make decisions often and review them in a discussion. Simply telling them they were wrong is not very productive, instead ask them why they decided the way they did. Ask them questions and lead them to find the right or better decision. Many middle schools now have a D.A.R.E. program in place preparing children for the peer pressure in teenage years. Centered around anti drug abuse it also teaches the steps for making smart decisions. Listen and watch, assess, act and then review. Having a figure of authority outside the home reinforce what you taught them can be very valuable in the development of your child. If there is no such program in place at your school, ask them about starting one.

The review is often neglected in many families. Be sure to discuss former decisions, why they were made and what impact they ultimately had. Learning from past mistakes prevents poor judgment in the future. Most importantly these conversations make your teenager see you are there for them, you care for them and they are not alone.